Just looking ahead to the early months of 2019, it seems as if it may be the Year of Arthur Miller. Other than it being the 70th anniversary of Death of a Salesman (which is part of the Young Vic’s next programme), I’m so far struggling to find a reason why he’s become the playwright to produce this year! What better excuse do I need to get to know him a bit better? Going into this year, the extent of my knowledge is based around The Crucible and the McCarthyism that inspired it (thank you, GCSE English Lit!) – and that also happens to be the only play of his that I’ve previously seen staged. All that is about to change…
Who was Arthur Miller?
He was born Arthur Asher Miller on 17 October 1915 in Harlem, New York City, to Isidore and Augusta Miller. After a comfortable start to life, the Great Depression hit his father’s manufacturing business and forced the family to relocate to Brooklyn, where a young Miller would deliver bread each morning to help boost the household income. Once he saved up the money, he enrolled at the University of Michigan where he majored first in journalism, before switching to English and graduating in 1938. He wrote his first play, No Villain, whilst a student. Though he’s most known for his stage work, he also wrote radio plays, screenplays (including an adaptation of The Crucible which starred his son-in-law, Daniel Day-Lewis), essays, and both fiction & non-fiction books. Miller was married three times, most famously to Marilyn Monroe, and died from bladder cancer and heart failure on 10 February 2005 in Roxbury, Connecticut.
An Enemy of the People, Union Theatre
The American Clock, Old Vic
The Price, Wyndham’s Theatre
The Crucible, The Yard
All My Sons, Old Vic
Death of a Salesman, Young Vic
A View From The Bridge, Royal & Derngate
How to Mend the World (With a Student Play)
Drunken Brainstorm’s play How to Mend the World (With a Student Play) sees director Felicity, her boyfriend Ben (also assistant director), movement director Jonty, and designer Christian in a race against time to conceptualise their student production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. It’s W1A meets Theatreland, as Ben watches his clueless colleagues come up with a series of buzzwords, soundbites & downright ridiculous thoughts in a bid to make the play relatable to a modern audience (and so secure valuable funding from the board) – little realising that there are few classic plays more pertinent to the current climate of political instability and fake news. Read more…
A View From The Bridge: “A hugely contentious political issue”
“Just remember, kid, you can quicker get back a million dollars that was stole than a word that you gave away.” This Arthur Miller classic began life as a one-act play (first staged on Broadway in September 1955), before being developed into a more substantial two-act play – it premièred at the New Watergate theatre club (now the Harold Pinter Theatre) in London’s West End, with direction from Peter Brook, on 11 October 1956. Since then there have been numerous revivals, including Ivo van Hove’s acclaimed Young Vic production (starring Mark Strong), which transferred to the West End and picked up three Olivier Awards, before heading across to New York. Read more…
Call Me Fury
Arthur Miller’s account of the Salem witch trials in The Crucible isn’t exactly known for its historical accuracy – so much so that he tried to pre-empt any criticism of that nature by writing a lengthy introduction to the play (referenced in The Yard’s production of the play earlier this year). But enough’s enough. In a world where the truth is increasingly optional, Out of the Forest Theatre give us the facts – and a female perspective on the story – in their new show Call Me Fury. Currently running at The Hope Theatre (following a stint at the 2019 VAULT Festival), it was written by Sasha Wilson and directed by Hannah Hauer-King, and further devised by the company & director. Read more…